The recipe for start-up success

Ben ShorrockBen Shorrock, Digital Tech Sector Specialist for Invest Bristol & Bath, tells Justin Richards MBCS why successful start-ups don’t just happen by accident.

Start-ups begin with an idea. Somewhere, for some reason, somebody sees a solution to a problem that, thus far, nobody else has imagined. And in that magical moment a seed is planted. With care, encouragement and perseverance that seed can grow into something remarkable.

Those all-important ideas don’t just happen by chance – they can be encouraged. ‘We want to make those serendipitous moments happen,’ explains Ben Shorrock, Digital Tech Sector Specialist for Invest Bristol & Bath.

TechSpark is a Bristol based tech hub that provides news, events, a jobs board and many other resources, all designed to help start-ups and entrepreneurs flourish.

The organisation is based in a grand building close to Bristol railway station. It’s was built by Brunel in 1841 and is called The Engine Shed.

‘The Engine Shed is built very much as a hub for things that are going on in Bristol and Bath. It involves start-ups, tech companies, universities, the public sector – it really tries to mix things up and to allow companies to talk to each other,’ Shorrock says.

Shorrock points to the local firm YellowDog as one that’s benefited from this drive to encourage radically different companies to talk to each other. ‘It’s a rendering service that uses rendering platforms built on big data platforms,’ Shorrock says. ‘You don’t get that kind of company in other places because those two sets of organisations and industries don’t come across each other.’ The Engine Shed, he says, springs up new sets of ideas.

The Bristol and Bath tech hub was nominated as this year’s most productive by Tech City’s Tech Nation. Along with that all-important serendipity, the hub also boasts another key strength – they’re just the right size. ‘You see it in the Valley and you see it in Cambridge. Everything is one or two degrees of separation away. People know each other and it’s easy to get about,’ Shorrock says. ‘This makes it easy to find the people you need to find. That’s really different from some of the big global cities, where you’re effectively anonymous.’

Smaller cities, he says, allow for an effective mixing of ideas – something that’s hard to foster in larger places.

Finally, Shorrock explains, start-ups also need good talent, good infrastructure and the opportunity to connect into the right universities and research programmes.

June 2019
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